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HijackThis: The Ultimate Malware Removal Tool for Nerds

HijackThis: Ultimate Malware Removal

What it is:

When we suggest that readers download software, we normally pick programs that are known for user friendliness. HijackThis is not user-friendly. In fact, it's downright dangerous in the wrong hands. Yet, its power for locating and removing malware is unrivaled, thanks to its catch-all approach that doesn't bother to determine what is good or bad, but merely tells you what is on your PC.

What we like:

Rather than exclusively looking for known baddies, HijackThis scans your browser, registry and other settings, and returns a complete log of everything it finds. From here, users can manually remove settings and other spyware components that might be missed by traditional anti-malware tools. This is all done from the HijackThis window, simplifying what would otherwise require digging through the registry and several other settings dialogs, and could ultimately take hours.

There is also a process manager that looks at all the programs and other files that are currently running on your PC, thus allowing you to quickly disable any offending processes.

Despite its intimidating interface, which returns confusing text-only results following a scan, HijackThis is relatively simple to use. Its no-frills approach means there are few options, buttons, or dialogs with which to contend. Simply launch the program, generate a log, and check off the boxes of the entries you want to remove. Thankfully, if you do remove something you shouldn't have, HijackThis offers a 'Backup and Restore' option under the 'Misc Tools' section.

What we don't like:

This isn't really a complaint, since HijackThis never pretends to be something it's not, but you should know that -- unless you're familiar with some of the more obscure settings of your PC -- you could do permanent damage to your OS with this program. It's strongly suggested that novice users post the generated log file to one of the many forums where more experienced nerds will gladly parse the results to find entries that should be removed. You can do this relatively easily by clicking "Analyze This."

There is an "Info on Selected Item" button, but the data it spits back at you is practically worthless.

Bottom line:

When other malware removal tools fail, HijackThis can step in and clear out stubborn infections. It's not for beginners, or for the faint of heart, but it certainly deserves a home in any geek's toolbox.

Download HijackThis here.

Tags: features, HijackThis, malware, security, switcheddownload, top